Date: Mon, 19 Apr 1999 18:54:25 EDT
Subject: Re: achieving audio and visual fidelity
In a message dated 4/19/99 2:32:25 PM Central Daylight Time,
>>Actually your post spurred a very interesting new thought in me. Right now,
memes are reproducing largely without benefit of an analogue to embryology.
Fads sweep the country; MLM groups compete, religions persist and
evangelize, and so on. It's a sea of memetic germ diffusing in different
But the DNA replicator (sorry Mario, I just don't get your objection to the
orthodox use of the word "replicator" to denote the intentional stance)
found it useful to develop embryos. Organisms that marshaled their influence
to become more and more powerful beings, then mated, regrouped, and spawned,
had a catastrophic advantage over simple diffusing seed.
Will this happen in memetics? Has it happened? Is the "reinventing" meme the
start of it?
Landmark Education, an evangelistic personal-growth group on which I have
written before, reinvents itself every few years by rewriting its charter
and vision statements. It's not really a new "organism" yet, though, because
of the inertia of having most of the same members carry over to the next
"generation." But what if some central committee, using some criteria of
success, spawned several evangelistic groups with different charters and
every few years recombined pieces of the successful ones, spawning wholly
THAT would be a phemotype.
Thank you "Jake," whoever you are.<<
Well, if the members of this list can stomach much more of my "profound
insights" and prognostications, I have actually considered this a little bit.
Actually, way back several threads ago, when I started harping at this "self
is an illusion" idea, was when it occured to me. On matters such as the
ontological validity of self, I don't know that there is any rational way to
resolve an argument on those matters. In fact Chris Lees in his response to
Aaron about the Zenification of memetics invoked this concept of the
cognoscenti. If you are in "the know", about Zen as he has suggested that he
and S. Blackmore are, there is simply no way that they will ever see my point
about the fundamental ontological validity of self - not just as a meme
self-plex, but as deeper template for behavior that emerges in many otherwise
social animals where imitation has not emerged like it has in humans.
Likewise, for somebody immersed in the culture of "selfishness" as I am, and
being thoroughly level-2 oriented like I am, there is no way that I can
imagine I will ever be a part of this Zen cognoscenti. I can argue my brains
out about the contradictions I see in their position, and they can point out
what they see as my delusions until they are blue in the face, and to no
avail. Perhaps your idea of achieving some ability to go to level-3 could
bridge that gap, but from my point of view that is another cognoscenti type
of thing. So the question remains, do people like Aaron and myself need to
aquire some certain level of Zen or Level-3 training before WE can proceed
with a "science of memetics", or do the Zenified memeticists have to engage
in what they see as my brand of egotistical delusion or some sort of level-3
union before THEY can proceed with a "science of memetics".
At some point, though perhaps not quite yet, I see a necessary split here.
And perhaps each approach will have its merits and be able to handle certain
issues better than the other, and each camp will have its own reinvention of
memetics. But I don't see how we can proceed to far together when we can't
agree on basic ontological issues.
I can see a possiblity of another philosophical divide on the question of
Campbell's rule, the extent to which it should be observed or ignored. This
would go back to the understanding of the evolutionary algorithm, since this
is the very underpinning of the idea of memetics in the first place. As it
is described by Dennet and others so far, it has not been explicitly stated
whether the algorithm forces the design move that a replicating population
must have different aspects involved in the process of selection
(phenotype/pheMotype) and in the process of retention (genotype, memotype).
The question remains whether this is just a forced design move of biology
(subject to Campbell's rule), or whether this is something intrinsic to the
evolutionary algorithm itself (not subject to Campbell's rule).
Whether or not it is subject to Campbell's rule, I personally think that
without some distinction between them, we are ultimately commiting
Lamarkianism - where alterations/enhancements to phenotype are confounded
with the genotype (selective retention). And then the question follows, if
Campbell's rule DOES apply to exempt us from making memotype/pheMotype
distinctions, and then if memetics ultimately IS Lamarkianism, can we then
even proceed with a real science of memetics, or will it all remain just a
subjective engagement in participatory philosophy? Aside from being wrong in
biology, was Lamark's concept of evolution even potentially intelligible
beyond its basics?
Perhaps there is the possiblity that these issues cannot be resolved either,
in which case there is the possibility for further fragmentations within the
memetics community. Indeed, I think these "memes in the brain" vs. "memes in
the environment" arguments are minor petty details compared to these
potential philsophical divisions, though I guess even they might be divisive
(actually I sort of doubt it, but we really may not know until these other
divisions become clearer). Perhaps such a fragmentation of the memetics
community would even be desirable freeing each camp to pursue its owns
science without wasting time engaged in philosophical arguments that may be
fundamentally unresolvable at this time. This fragmentation could represent
an appropriate initial phase in the sciences of memetics, leaving the
ultimate consilience of the many offspring groups for a later time, when each
school has matured, dealt with those issues that can be dealt with
selectively - and perhaps some schools will not fare as well as others.
Of course for each community, the underlying philosophical distinction,
probably articulable in a few sentences, would represent the memotype that
unifies the community, and perhaps the resulting body of science and
knowlege, that is distinctly different from each of the other memetics
communities, would represent a pheMotypical manifestation of that memotype.
Richard, I wasn't really certain how my initial EM in this subject thread
lead you to your thoughts, but your thoughts lead to some more of my own, and
a firmer reiteration of some previous offhand thoughts and remarks that I
made in earlier messages, so thank you!
While I am at it, and while we still have some unified community of memetics,
if not a unified philosophy and science, I thought I would repaste the short
remarks from the initial EM in this thread after my signature for an extra
memetic repition. I know it is a small, and some may think insignificant
problem, but these problems of pronunciation have lead to a few conversation
disasters IRL for me, and so I hope to help keep others from doing the same.
I really DO think these are probably the best solutions for the audio and
sytactic fidelity of these words, but I would be interested to know if anyone
else has a better solution to the problem.
In a message dated 4/15/99 9:49:41 AM Central Daylight Time, MemeLab@aol.com
>> I frequently talk about these things to my father-in-law who is a
In conversing about these topics we often have a pronunciation problem. In
speaking verbally, "phenotype" and "pheMotype" sound almost identical
to lots of misunderstanding if your conversations wander between biology and
culture as ours frequently do.
I have come up with an idea - perhaps we should pronounce it like this -
- o - tipe" as contrasted with the biological - "feen - o - tipe".
Furthermore in written terms I always write pheMotype with a capital "M" in
the middle to make the distinction more visual. I have seen some writers in
the journal use bold on the "m", apparently reflecting my concern as well.
The only problem that I see with bold is that in the world of computers,
EMail, and the internet, there is less compatibility and resources expended
on emphasis features than there is on case. With enough pastings and
repastings, a bolded "m" is more likely to transform into just a plain "m".
A capitalized "M" is much less likely to be altered.
I think that in addition to refining our concepts, we ought refine the word
presentation to make both the similarities and the differences between the
biological words more distinguishable and more consistent. The only thing
left out from this scheme is "memotype". Once I have altered my
pronunciation of pheMotype, should I pronounce it "meem - o - tipe" to be
consistent with "meme", or should I pronounce it "mem - o - tipe" to be
consistent with pheMotype? I am thinking of going with this latter solution.
Has anyone else thought about this things?
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